A civil Society grouping under the banner the Natural Resource Management Coalition (NRMC) has underscored the need for government, especially the National Legislature, to pass a Stand-Alone County Social Development Fund Management Law. The law will aid stakeholders in decentralizing developmental initiatives around the country, the group said.
Speaking to reporters in Monrovia over the weekend, Mr. Peter Dolo, Deputy Director for Program at the Development Education Network Liberia DEN-L), said the coalition of eight civil society grouping with funding from USAID through the Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiatives (LAVI) “conducted a nation-wide research to identify challenges that are slowing down development at the county level regardless of the fact that funding are allocated annually”.
A Liberia Media Center release signed by LAVI Project Coordinator Francis Brewer quoted Mr. Dolo as saying further, that the findings from the nation-wide research identified several challenges confronting the management of the fund.
These challenges include poor information dissemination before and about the county sitting, hand picking delegates to attend the county sitting and limited participation of women and other disadvantaged groups in the counties. Other challenges were people who allegedly misappropriate the funding allocated must not go with impunity; huge percentage of the funding was used on county administration and lack of proper reporting on how the funds were used.
The DEN-L Deputy Director for Programs mentioned that following the research, a launching program was held in Monrovia at which some members of the National Legislature and other national stakeholders were present and these findings were presented with a proposal for reform Section 9 of the Budget Law which speaks about the use and administration of the funds.
Following the interaction, NRMC began the advocacy around the reforms. These reforms include at least 25% of the total delegates attending the county sitting should be women, county sitting should be done when lawmakers are on their annual break and lawmakers and other county authorities are to only serve as observers at the county sitting.
Other reforms include the presiding must be elected from the delegates, the funding should be placed in an extra county account and disbursement can be made after proper expenditure report for the previous funding has been made and only 10% of the funding should be used for administration annually.
Mr. Dolo concluded by saying that it is the aspiration of the Coalition that the Government of Liberia will see the need to pass a CSDF Management Stand-Alone Law that will not be changed annually as the National Budget is done, noting lawmakers’ support is paramount to ensure the passage of the proposed Bill.
It can be recalled that in 2006, Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in an effort to decentralize development allotted US$200,000 annually to each county regardless of the size and population to support development initiatives such as roads, education and health.
The Natural Resource Management Coalition is a combination of eight civil society groups that include the Liberia Media Center, Sustainable Development Institute, NAYMOTE, RHARP, and Platform for Development and Peace, Development Education Network Liberia, among others.